Okoi Obono-Obla, the chairman of presidential panel on recovery of public assets, has finally been served a letter of his immediate suspension from office.
The letter, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, corroborated this newspaper’s previous reports of Mr Obono-Obla’s removal from office for a series of allegations, including falsification of WAEC result and corruption.
Mr Obono-Obla had spent the past few days dismissing the exclusive reports as unfounded and sponsored by powerful elements. He also insisted that he remained in office because he had not been informed of his suspension.
The emergence of the letter comes hours after PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Obono-Obla had been finally asked to stop all activities as the chairman of the asset panel.
His trouble was linked to an investigation by the anti-graft agency, ICPC, which found that he had falsified his WAEC result to enrol at the University of Jos, where he studied law in the 1980s. He also attended the Nigerian Law school on the back of the fake high school records.
Several administration officials who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES expressed strong concerns that Mr Obono-Obla could not be allowed to continue in office and expanding a career he began on fake academic credentials.
The findings of the ICPC also corroborated a previous inquiry by the House of Representatives in 2018. A House committee that investigated Mr Obono-Obla’s WAEC documents found that it was fake and asked Mr Buhari to remove him from office.
The lawmakers also said Mr Obono-Obla’s university degree and law school certificate should be withdrawn and he should be handed over to federal authorities for prosecution.
Another matter that worried administration officials was the growing claims that Mr Obono-Obla had used his office to enrich himself. The House also reached similar conclusions in its December 2018 report.
Mr Obono-Obla has strongly denied all allegations of certificate forgery or corruption, saying he was a victim of vindictive powerful interests who are offended by his anti-corruption fight.
He said he had recovered billions in cash and asset from corrupt present and former officials into the federation account.
Although his work has been widely praised by anti-corruption campaigners, the tactics often deployed by Mr Obono-Obla had also been a major ground for concern.
He had also been largely controversial on duty, taking on top administration officials like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Attorney-General Abubakar Malami.
The letter suspending Mr Obono-Obla had been dispatched to him, administration sources said. It was, however, unclear whether he had received and acknowledged it as of Wednesday evening.
He did not immediately answer calls seeking comments Wednesday night.